AUCKLAND, (RNZI) - Samoa coach Sir Gordon Tietjens is hoping the return of some experienced heads will inspire his team at this weekend's Las Vegas Sevens.
Former captain Faalemiga Selesele is back on the World Series, after impressing at the Brisbane Global Tens, while Afa Aiono has recovered from injury and assumes the captaincy, freeing up Tila Mealoi to focus on playing.
Alex Samoa has also forced his way into the team for the first time this season.
The Manu are a lowly 13th after the first four rounds of the World Series and Sir Gordon Tietjens said the addition of some seasoned campaigners is a timely boost.
"They've got lots of sevens experience and they're very good players and they're only 27 and 28 respectively so having them come back into the fold to work with these younger players, it's a real positive," he said.
"Faalemiga Selesele I thought last year was just simply outstanding for Samoa and for him to not be allowed to play in these first two tournaments because of a provincial team's requirements is quite tough.
"But he went away and played for Samoa in the Tens and came back and played last weekend in the [Marist Sevens] tournament for his club Moataa, and I selected him on that and he's really excited.
"Afa Aiono, who we all know is a very talented sevens players, he's been out through injury and he's just come back in," said Tietjens.
"He's also now my captain so he brings back with him a lot of experience as well.
"And Alex Samoa - another player from last year - he's into his first two tournaments," he said.
"He's also quite an acquitted sevens player, played well for Samoa last year and he's come back and raring to go."
Sir Gordon Tietjens said the team for Las Vegas and Vancouver offers more balance.